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POMPONAZZI'S CRITIQUE OF AQUCNAS'S ARGUMENTS FOR THE :IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL JOHN L. TRELOAR, S.J. Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin I. lntJroWi.wtion IN 'JiHE COURSE of hls discussion on the immortality of the soul, Pietro Pomponazzi systematically critiques the Pfatonic, Avel'IJ'IOist, and Thomistic positions concerning this perennial problem iin the philosophy of human nature. Pomponiazzi's Tractatrus de irnrmortalitate animae 1 is inteirestin !g from three methodological standpoints: (1) the criteria Pomponazzi uses to ev:aluate the various positions, (2) Pomponazzi 's attempt to redefine the probtlem of immortality in fo:gica;l terms, and (8) his analysis of previous positions. In this Renaissance treatise one finds an excellent example of the infliuence of method on the dev:elopment of an idea. This article wiihl eX'amine and ev:aluate Pomponazzi's analy,s:i.s of Thomas A:quiinas's aJ.'gument for the immortality of the soul showing how Pomponazzi''S irefo:rnnula;bion puts the Thomistic argument in a context completely differoort fmm whait Thomas himself intended. Although this ipaper treats a historical pr01blem, its mai:i.n oibject is to show how the fo:tmulation of phifosophical critema and ,questions influences how one handles a topic 1 and 1 The standard Latin text of the Tractatus is: Petrus Pomponatus, Tractatus de immortalitate animae, ed. Gianfranco Morra (Bologna: Nanni and Fiammeghi, 1954). The English translations used in this article are from Ernst Cassirer et al., eds. The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948). A complete translation of the Tractatus by William Henry Hay II, revised by John Herman Randall, Jr., and annotated by Paul Oskar Kristeller, appears on pp. 280-381. 458 454 JOHN L. TRELOAR, S.J, what one says about prewous solutions to a problem. This article, then, studies a rphi1osophica1l methodology as much as it arppraises Pomrponazzi and Aquinas.2 Eady in the Tractatus de immortalitate animae Pomponazzi 'es'tia;bJishes the dual cr1iter:ia for judging the adequacy of au p!i.'evious arguments ]or the immortaJl~ty of the ,soul. First, "Leaving aside revefaition and miracles, and remaining entirely within natmal limits," 3 what can be said concerrning the immortality of the soul? Second, "what ... was Aristotle's opin~on on the same question " ?4 These criteria function as the limiting conditions that determine the adequacy of any argument :for immortality; Pomponazzi employs these criteria riJgm~ously to test whether previious a1rguments are adeqU'ate. Pomponazzi's attempt to l'edefine immo:rtality in strictly 1ogicail terms also influences his critique of pl'evious authoi's :and his own generail condusions. He picks u:p Fieino'.s notion that the human being is of an ambiguous nature, that is, part spirit 1and pa:rt oorpore1 al.5 This, of course, is new neither with Ficino nor with Pomponazzi, for the concept of a twofold nature goes hack at least as ia1· as Plwto. Plomponazzi',s use of 1this concept of a twofold nature, however, is unique. He casts the whole 2 In his book Renaissance Thought and Its Sources (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979), Paul Oskar Kristeller says, "Among the many problems and concepts that have occupied the thinkers of the past, and especially those of the Renaissance, the doctrine of immortality seems especially remote from the discussions and concerns of our time" (p. 181). He argues in this essay that, "The problem is still with us, and we may hope that it may yet lead to new answers that are more in accordance with our knowledge and our sensibilities than those transmitted to us by the thinkers of the past, especially those of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries" (p. 196). s "Primum scilicet, quid, revelationibus et miraculis semotis, persistendoque pure infra limites naturales, hac in re sentis." Immortalitate, p. 36 (p. 281). All references to the Traatatus de immortalitate animae will appear in this form. The first page reference is to the Latin text and the page number in parentheses is to the English translation cited above. 4 "Alterum vero, quamnam sententiam Aristotelis in eadem materiam fuisse censes." Imrnortalitate, p. 36 (p. 281). 5 See Marsilius Ficino, " Five Questions Concerning the...


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